All on Board: Does Disclosure Help Create More Inclusive Boardrooms?

The Conference Board of Canada, 27 pages, April 14, 2021
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This impact paper examines the question: Have “comply or explain” disclosure requirements accelerated the level of women’s representation in corporate boardrooms?

Document Highlights

In December 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) implemented comply or explain disclosure requirements for women’s representation on corporate boards. These new requirements were motivated by the persistently low representation of women on boards of public companies. Our current research explores whether comply or explain disclosure has meaningfully increased women’s representation on boards by asking the following questions:

  • How has representation changed over time, both before and after disclosure came into effect?
  • In effecting change, what are the roles of organizational practices probed through disclosure, such as gender diversity targets and policies?
  • Do organizational characteristics matter?

Our findings on the effects of disclosure requirements on women’s representation on boards reinforce the need for a deeper understanding of the dynamics underlying the selection and invitation of women into Canada’s boardrooms. Our findings also indicate that it would be prudent to continue to survey corporate leaders, governance bodies, and investors to continue to identify different organizational, regulatory, and policy levers.

Table of Contents

  • Key findings
  • High hopes: The rationale for disclosure requirements
  • Has disclosure helped? The evidence says “not much”
  • Gender diversity practices do matter
  • Every vacancy is an opportunity
  • Where do we go from here?

Appendix A—Methodology

Appendix B—Disclosure questions

Appendix C—Soft targets, hard quotas

Appendix D—Bibliography

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